Author: Katlina Sommerberg

Soft red-violet and indigo flog floats off the floor, obscuring my body beneath glittering colors. The fingers that held my boyfriend’s are drenched in sweat and water vapor, clammy in this cold tank. There is nothing but the fog. My body drifts behind me, outside my vision, and I‌ can’t tell anymore when my eyes are opened or not — the colors are the same.

Have I ever felt my body? I hit the ground running during cross country training, but had I ever felt the blades of grass beneath my soles? I listened to the pain, obeying its screams and waiting for a whisper to flare.

Yet the colors swirl. Water vapor collects on my naked skin, running and dripping as I‌ spin. I remind myself that this is zero gravity, but I still expect the steam to act like a shower back on Earth. Back home, where he waits for me and my amputated leg sits in a pickle jar.

Why? I can’t remember now why I wanted to save the flesh. The phantom sensations shrieked for attention whenever I glimpsed the dead piece of myself. Maybe I wanted to remember what it was like to have muscle and skin where there isn’t anything anymore.

In the fog, I’m free of the expectation to see non-existent flesh. Phantom pain becomes indistinguishable from any other.

I float in the sea of shifting red-violet and indigo plumes until all of the pain melts away. Chemicals in the gas, they explained to me, a two-pronged strategy of mindful meditation and medication.

Now I‌ see. I was never whole.